KWO concerned letter about the forced repatriation of the newly arrived families in Tak

KWO concerned letter about the forced repatriation of the newly arrived families in Tak Province, Thailand

Date: June 22, 2009

KWO is very concerned about the current situation of repeated forced repatriation of the families recently arrived to Thailand in Tha Song Yang by Local Thai authority since June 16, 09. We are particularly concerned for the security and safety of women and children who just ran away from fighting in their areas.

KWO fear that women are vulnerable to rape if they are forced to return and the children are already tired of running.The evidence of two Karen teenage girls raped and killed proof a well founded fear of women being abused if they returned.
KWO would like to call on the international communities to do whatever they can to stop the possible forced repatriation by the Thai local Thai army.

The Thai government and UNHCR should urgently develop a procedure of obtaining proper informed consent from villagers, for decisions about returning to their villages or asking for refuge in Thailand. UNHCR must ensure that adequate protection measures are in place to protect villagers from forced or coerced repatriation.

KWO appeals to the Thai Royal government to not force these newly arrived families and to respect the international law of non-refoulement.

We also call on every concern groups who care for human rights in Burma to give pressure to Thai government to allow the refugees to take refuge until there is peace in Burma and people volunteer to return to their villages.

“Thai authorities should at least wait and see the situation. Forcing back these people during the rainy season and to the place where they still have every reason to fear for their lives is inhumane and a violation of their rights.” said Dah Eh Kler, the Secretary of KWO. “These people just fled to the border a few weeks ago with fear and fresh memories of their attacks.” If they are forced to return they will face abuses at the hands of the DKBA and the Burmese army such as forced labor, extortion, looting, raped and killing. Since June 16, the Thai local authority repeatedly asked the newly arrived families to go back to their
villages because they said there is no more fighting. DKBA also threatened the newly arrived families with the destruction of their land and belongings if they do not return soon to their houses.

Since June 2, 2009 troops from five battalions of the Burmese regime, The State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), with three battalions of Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) have been shelling and attacking villages close to the Thai border. This has caused almost 3,500 villagers from 20 villages, mostly women and children flee to Thailand.

These villagers have not entered the refugee camps yet and are currently taking refuge in three main locations, which are Noh Boe, Mae Salit and Oo Thu Klo under the Royal Thai administration. The current sites have strong winds, heavy rain and living conditions are very hard.

KWO is a community-based organization of Karen women working in development and relief in the refugee camps on the Thai border and with IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) inside Burma. KWO aims to empower Karen women in all spheres of life, including education and general living standards, and to develop women’s knowledge, and skills in politics and leadership.

Contact Person:
Blooming Night Zan
Dah Eh Kler

KarenWomen Organization
P.O. 19, Mae Sariang, Mae Hong Son, 58110, Thailand,
Tel: 66-53-681084, Fax: 66-53-621410

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